Tuesday, 07 December 2010
Elliot Saltman   (Getty Images)
Elliot Saltman (Getty Images)

Scotland’s Elliot Saltman fired a six under par 64 to take a three-way share of the lead with Alfredo Garcia-Heredia and Steve Lewton at the halfway stage of The European Tour Qualifying School in Spain.

On a day of low scoring at PGA Catalunya Resort, Garcia-Heredia and Saltman kept their cards bogey-free, posting six birdies each over the par 70 Tour Course to move to 11 under par, while Lewton recovered from a hat-trick of bogeys to sign for a 66.

It proved to be a successful day all round for the Saltman family, with Elliot’s younger brother Lloyd carding a 65 to lie in a group of five players one stroke off the pace as the pair look to join the Molinaris as the only other siblings on The European Tour.

Elliot Saltman, who at 28 is the elder brother by three years, feels he is right at the top of his game after hitting 17 greens in regulation and is confident he can keep his form going for another three days.

“I think this is the best I've played,” he said. “My game's always been there and I've been working hard with my coach, Bob Torrance, but something's always been holding me back - the mental side of the game.

“I've been getting too far ahead of myself and thinking 'what if'. It's nice to be top of the leaderboard but there's a long way to go. I said to myself if I can get to 13 under for six rounds I'll have a good chance.

“As long as I can keep my game and keep my head positive, I should be fine. The more you think about things in golf, the worse you play. So right now I'm just trying to stay focused on the hole I'm on, the shot I'm on, and take it from there.

“I said to Bob last night I was feeling a little nervous but he just said 'what have you got to be nervous about? Just go and hit the ball'. That was the attitude I took today.” 

Garcia-Heredia, who claimed the last available card at the 2008 Qualifying School, said improvements to the mental side of his game contributed to his flawless display.

“I’ve been working hard for the past six months, and I’m feeling good at the moment,” he said. “ I’ve been working mainly on my head, because my technique has always been pretty good. I wasn’t getting the results I should have, so I started seeing a psychologist and my results have got much better.

“I’m staying much calmer now, even if things aren’t going my way. And I’m enjoying my golf a lot more. If I get my card back this week, I’m absolutely confident I’ll make more use of it next season. I’ll be a better player if and when I get back on Tour, for sure.”

Englishman Lewton, who was the first round leader after opening with a 63, was carded four birdies in his closing six holes after a shaky spell on his front nine.

"It was a better day than yesterday but I started off poorly again,” he said. “I birdied my first hole - the tenth - then managed to bogey the 13th, 14th and 15th to go two over for the day. But from there I played really nicely.

"It was a lot easier today because it wasn't blowing a gale. Obviously that means the scoring will be lower as well though. I'm just trying to play steady golf and not get too far ahead of myself. I'm just trying to play one round at a time.”

Overnight leader Florian Fritsch, of Germany, shot a 68 to join the group of players one stroke off the lead on ten under par, along with Welshman Liam Bond (67), Scotsman Jack Doherty, Englishman  Adam Gee (65) and Lloyd Saltman.

The younger Saltman brother is now looking forward to challenging his brother at the top of the leaderboard.

He said: "I'm one behind the big man. I was looking at him and trying to work out how he was getting on but he didn't look too happy. Then I came in and he was 11 under so you never can tell. I'm delighted. It was a good day.”

All of the current top 30 – a position which would secure a European Tour card at the end of six rounds – came from the Tour Course, which has the lower par of the two courses in Girona.

On the more difficult par 72 Stadium Course, which the leaders will tackle tomorrow, English amateur Matthew Nixon impressed most, posting a seven  under par 65 to  move to six under par.

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